Like many people who moved to Tokyo in their youth, most of the time I’ve spent in Japanese taxi cabs has been directly preceded by heavy drinking. In the country’s urban centers, people primarily get around by train and subway. However, both of them stop running around midnight (for now?), at which time you can see a mass of people stumbling towards the station like Cinderella if she’d spent less time on the dance floor with the prince and more at the ball’s open bar. Once the trains stop, they don’t start again until about five in the morning, and since staying out all night drinking only seems like a good idea until your buzz wears off at around 2:30 a.m., if you missed the last train the only way you’re getting home is by taking a taxi.
Like taking a cab ride anywhere else in the world, the drivers use radios to communicate with the dispatcher and other cars in the fleet. I could never understand what Japanese taxi drivers were saying to each other, but the reason why isn’t because I was liquored up (OK, so it wasn’t only because I was liquored up). It turns out cab drivers in Japan have a whole set of jargon and code words that you won’t find in any textbooks. Read More